Last night Joyce and I went to Takashi, Takashi Inoue's yakiniku restaurant in the West Village. The menu offered a Japanese spin on Korean bbq, and we ordered a few apps and a main to share. Takashi boasts a huge variety of offal including first, second, third and fourth cow stomach, "testicargot," heart, brain, etc., but we stayed away from anything too crazy. Gonna skip the cow balls. I drank an Orion beer and Joyce went with a sweet and milky Korean rice alcohol beverage known as makgeolli. Upon arrival we were presented three small dishes of cabbage with delicious dressing, marinated bean sprouts, and garlicky kimchi.We started with the famed niku-uni, above, and yooke, below. The niku-uni was fresh sea urchin on top of raw chuck flap, shiso leaf and nori, served with a dab of wasabi and a bowl of condensed soy sauce. We were told to add wasabi to each and then to fold everything in the nori and try to eat it in one bite. This was my first experience with all of these flavors and I was warned that many are un-fond of the texture of uni (sea urchin.) I didn't mind the smooth and creamy consistency in opposition to the tougher chuck flap beneath it. The shiso added a cinnamon-y spice.
The Yooke was thinly sliced chuck-eye tartare in special sauce. It was topped with nori strips and a small quail egg. This was my favorite dish of the night. The tender, melt-in-mouth meat was sweet, yolky and sprinkled with sesame seeds. It was so freakin' good.
For a main we shared the special 7-day potted kalbi in miso and brown butter with runny egg. The Korean style short rib came in two pieces in a small ceramic pot. Our waiter cooked the meat on the grill set into the counter in front of us, and scrambled two soft boiled eggs for us to dip the meat in. He cut the strips into bite size pieces and instructed us to cook each piece for a bit longer before eating. The juicy meat had a strong burnt butter taste and the fat content gave it a unique, springy consistency.
We finished with Takashi's homemade vanilla soft serve with gorgeous green tea syrup. It was creamy and sweet and topped with gold leaf.
Basically everyone who is anyone loves Takashi, including Sam Sifton and Anthony Bourdain. I think that besides the artful food, this is due in large part to the high-tech robotic Japanese toilet in the unisex bathroom. Don't miss it.
Takashi: 456 Hudson St., between Barrow and Morton. (212) 414-2929